The 2020 Los Angeles Rams were a good team, and with the addition of quarterback Matthew Stafford, can become an even better one in 2021. Under coach Sean McVay the Rams have made the playoffs ¾ years and went to the Super Bowl in 2018. McVay’s offense was a top unit in 2017 and 2018 but has since declined, some of which can be attributed to poor QB play from now Lions QB Jared Goff. The Rams sent a massive package for Stafford, so there are high expectations for this team next year, as they look to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium next year.
In January of this past year, a week before the Super Bowl, the Rams sent a package of two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Jared Goff for Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Stafford has been a Detroit Lion for his 12 year career, and requested a trade from the organization. Many teams had interest in Stafford’s services including the Broncos, Colts, and 49ers. Stafford has been a great quarterback for most of his career and has several records including the all-time passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating for the Lions. However, he has been stuck in Detroit for the past 2 decades, and they haven’t had much success, their last championship was in 1957.
The deal with the Rams came as somewhat of a surprise to people, as LA had just given Jared Goff a 134 million contract extension the previous offseason, and they seemed committed to him for the future. The Rams head of college scouting, Brad Holmes had just accepted a position as the new Lions GM earlier in the month, so it’s likely there was a familiarity while making the deal. A main reason that the price for Stafford was so high was likely because of 2 major reasons. Those being the ability of the Lions to take on Goff’s huge contract and that other teams had interest.Embed from Getty Images
Jared Goff was selected #1 overall in 2016 to be the Rams next franchise QB. His rookie year he struggled heavily with only 1,089 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions while starting only 7 games. Then head coach Jeff Fisher was fired, and a young OC named Sean McVay from Washington was hired as the new Rams HC. McVay would lead the 2017 Rams team to the playoffs, only to be beaten in the 1st round by the Atlanta Falcons. McVay’s offense only continued to improve the next year, and led his team to the Super Bowl the next year.
Goff played great during this period of time, posting 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns, and a 101.1 passer rating, the highest in his career. His first struggles again were in week 13 of 2018 against the Detroit Lions. The Lions were not an amazing team that year with a 6-10 record, but something looked off about McVay’s top offense. Some of this can be attributed to the decline of star RB Todd Gurley, but Goff wasn’t playing to the best of his ability either.
Goff had a couple of major problems that showed up from the end of 2018 onward, and as a Rams fan he was hard to watch play sometimes. A major issue was that he could not handle pressure. Teams like the Patriots or Bears with good defenses would stack the boxes against the Rams, which was very effective as it would result in Goff making more mistakes. Since 2018 Goff leads the league with 55 total turnovers, 14 fumbles and 41 interceptions which is astronomical for a QB. Some of Goff’s pressure issues also came with him having to hold the ball longer because of McVay’s Offense. His offense used to feature longer developing routes and complicated play-action patterns, and from watching film, you can see that as soon as Goff turned his back to throw, he was met with a defender. He also had a bad tendency to lock onto his first read, and try to force it to them no matter what, which resulted in a lot of picks.
2020 was the year that broke McVay and Goff’s relationship. Goff was playing pretty good towards the beginning of the season with 8 touchdowns and 3 picks through the first 5 weeks. His bad games came against good defenses, especially the 49ers and his worst game that season was Miami. The Miami game was definitely the game where McVay and Les Snead started to evaluate their QB situation. Goff had 2 interceptions and a 11.2 QBR. The Rams were embarrassed by the Dolphins defense and special teams, likely because Brian Flores knew how to make Goff mess up as he was the Patriots’ defensive play-caller in the Super Bowl.Embed from Getty Images
For the rest of the 2020 season Goff played decently, but for the most part was either boom or bust, with no in-between. For example, Goff had a good game against the Super Bowl-winning Bucs in week 11, and they lost to the winless Jets 4 weeks later. McVay started to get fed up with Goff, as he was the reason they were losing some games. He called out Goff after their game against the 49ers saying ”Our QB has to take better care of the football”. It’s also worth mentioning that unlike Stafford, Goff had loads of talent surrounding him on both sides of the ball, yet was unable to win a Super Bowl during his time with the Rams.
Matthew Stafford is willing to give it his all in 2021 and hopefully lead his team to the Super Bowl next year. He brings a veteran presence to the Rams that they desperately have needed the past few years. During his time in Detroit, he was very clutch, as he had 38 game-winning drives, and more importantly, fewer turnovers with 63 compared to Goff’s 74 since 2016. I think he’ll provide some much needed consistency on the Rams offense next year. With the addition of Desean Jackson, and Van Jefferson hopefully getting more playing time, I think we’ll see the Rams taking more shots downfield, something they haven’t done since the departure of Brandin Cooks.
Even though there were lots of departures in the coaching staff, front office, and on Defense, The Rams still have a great chance at a Super Bowl next year. Raheem Morris as the new DC should have no problem scheming up plays for two of the best defensive players in the league, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. As for the departures on defense, their roles have been filled by rookies. They should keep the same scheme installed by Staley and should still be a top 5 unit in 2021. If the Rams don’t win a Super Bowl within the next 3 years, or during Stafford’s tenure there, then their trade will have been for nothing.